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How to Use the RtI Model for Academic Intervention

By Keren Perles

So your school is implementing the RtI model, and you’re not sure how RtI academic intervention works. Luckily, it’s quite simple, once you understand the basic concepts of RtI.

RtI in a Nutshell

The main goal of RtI academic intervention is to identify students who are struggling academically and to help them learn the skills they need to succeed. To do this, the RtI model uses a three-tier system. It also focuses on data collection and the use of strategic interventions. Each section of this article will address one of these aspects of the RtI model.

Three-Tier System

The RtI model uses a three tier system to identify and support students who have not been succeeding academically. All students begin at Tier 1 of the RtI system. In Tier 1, all of the students learn together in one classroom. The teacher collects data about the academic achievement of the students and uses strategic interventions that are helpful at the Tier 1 level. (These strategic interventions are examined in greater depth later in the series.) The teacher then identifies students who are not succeeding with only Tier 1 and refers them to Tier 2.

Tier 2 often consists of pulling students out of the classroom for approximately half an hour a day for more intense instruction. Additional data collection and strategic interventions are used. Students who are still not successful are referred to Tier 3, which usually consists of even more rigorous instructions. Often students are pulled out of the regular classroom for an hour or more for Tier 3 instruction. (Note that some teachers complain this this model does not provide opportunities for gifted students.)

Strategic Interventions and Data Collection

Strategic interventions may include various consequences imposed on a student, ways to help the student better understand the material, or more positive ways of working with students. Data collection is a basic component of the RtI model that goes hand in hand with strategic interventions. In order for the model to work, teachers have to take data that include

  • Which intervention was used
  • Why each intervention was used
  • The effects of each intervention

They will then use this data to ascertain how to best help the academic achievement of the student as well as to determine whether a student is currently in the correct tier. Using these components of RtI, academic intervention will likely be more successful because it is based on firm data and well-researched interventions.